One of the things I’ve noticed having returned to D.C. is that, since the never-ending SafeTrack repairs–which means unreliable weekend service, Dupont Circle is incredibly congested with traffic on the weekend evenings. It’s especially bad near the actual circle. That shouldn’t happen since the circle has a Metro station, but that is what happens when it doesn’t run late at night. And this apparently is hurting businesses too (boldface mine):
The lack of late-night Metro service is hurting the District’s economy, which derives a significant amount of revenue from the nightlife industry, according to a study released Wednesday.
The first-ever economic study of the District’s nightlife found that parking and transportation rank among the top obstacles late-night workers face in getting to their jobs, while businesses say they are losing money and customers when Metro shuts down early.
Establishments that serve the city’s nightlife added just over $7 billion a year to the District’s economy in fiscal 2020, the study said, and accounted for $562 million of its total annual tax revenue.
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), whose office commissioned the study, plans to use the report to push Metro to restore late-night service. The Metro board meets Thursday, and public hearings on the budget are taking place this week.
…Bowser and the D.C. Council want Metro to restore the hours that were cut in 2016, when the transit agency began a system overhaul to improve safety after several calamities, including the fatal L’Enfant Plaza smoke incident in 2015. Initially, the extra time was used as part of Metro’s extensive SafeTrack rebuilding program. After SafeTrack, Metro officials said workers needed the time to keep up with maintenance and repairs. Bowser and others note that the cuts were supposed to be temporary.
…While nearly 80 percent of nightlife businesses anticipated an even brighter future of sales growth in years to come, the study also noted that many bars and restaurants are vulnerable with profit margins of about 5 percent. Higher costs have led to a spike in restaurant closures, up from 72 in 2018 to 125 last year.
Well, five years is temporary on a geological time scale. Seriously, WMATA and our political leaders need to stop thinking of Metro solely as a commuter system, but realize that it’s an important part of transportation, especially during the non-rush hours.